Observatory Hill to Lake Mendota in nine seconds? That’s one way to beat the long, cold winter days on campus. Thrilling!

UW Tobogan Run, c. 1911.Launch site located (approximately) between the current site of Washburn Observatory ® and the La Follette School for Public Affairs building (L).

Image #S07723 and #S07722.

For more information about UW-Madison campus history, contact uwarchiv@library.wisc.edu or visit archives.library.wisc.edu. On, Wisconsin!

Boarding Houses and Ladies Hall

Ladies’ (Chadbourne) Hall


Ladies (Chadbourne) Hall: 420 N Park Street [original building: 1874-1959, current building: 1960-present]

Boarding Houses

Location(s): Boarding houses were common and numerous near campus – some located on the current sites (as of 2015) of Humanities, Memorial Library, the University of Wisconsin Extension Building, and along Lake and State Streets. 

In the early days of campus, men and women did not have many options for  places to live. Men lived in North and South Halls in the beginning, but South Hall was eventually for a brief period of time open to women, prior to the building of Ladies Hall. In the latter half of the 19th century, both North and South Halls closed their doors to residents and men began to move into boarding houses that popped up all over the city. Women also had the option to live in boarding houses, which many did, because in the beginning Ladies Hall was only open to residents of Wisconsin.

To entertain themselves, the men and women played all sorts of parlor games. These included: “Squails!”, Whist, Euchre (Still a true Wisconsin favorite), Cribbage, Le Circle, checkers, chess and poker to name a few. They also hosted different types of parties and concerts, including fudge parties. The same went for Ladies’ Hall, though women had a strict curfew. They hosted concerts and socials. Entertainment outside of the boarding houses and Ladies’ Hall included canoeing, sleigh rides, beach “bathing” parties, picnics and camping. What fun!

Boarding houses gradually fell out of style as the 20th century went on, being replaced by dormitories and apartment complexes.


Visit UWMadArchives on Flickr to view more historic images of popular UW (Madison) student hangouts:

Hangin’ out at UW (Part One: The First 50 Years)


For more information about these locations or campus history in general, contact uwarchiv@library.wisc.edu or visit archives.library.wisc.edu. On, Wisconsin!

Samantha Snyder for the UW-Madison Archives (MLIS ‘15).